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story.lead_photo.caption JULY 2019 FILE: Isaac Williams, near, and co-worker Angela Ramsey share a light-hearted moment as they unroll a new banner preparing for the reopening of the Firley YMCA after it sustained extensive damage in the May 22 tornado. Williams is membership director and Ramsey is membership assistant. The Y reopens at 5 a.m. Aug. 1. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Yoga classes have long been well-attended in Jefferson City, but the Jefferson City YMCA recently added some new options to better serve people who live on the east side of town.

Saturday was the second class of a new 9 a.m. "Yoga Basics" option on Saturdays at the Firley YMCA, 525 Ellis Blvd.

"Last week, we were busting at the seams," instructor Rebecca Miller said, adding "there's been a really good response to the class here at Firley."

There were about 30 people in the class Saturday morning, occupying most of the space in the fitness center's downstairs multipurpose room.

Brett Blythe, the Jefferson City YMCA's health and fitness director, said there had been 45 people at the first class the week before — and the lack of space at Firley has been something holding back yoga class offerings there before.

Blythe said the Saturday morning class is the first time yoga has been offered at Firley in maybe six years, though "it's one of our most popular classes" at the West YMCA, where there's multiple Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday class options.

He said the new class offers more convenience to people who live on the east side of town and don't want to drive to West.

Blythe added a 10 a.m. Friday class will also be starting at Firley next month, as well as perhaps an 8 a.m. Saturday one.

The YMCA's group exercise calendar for February also shows there's a new "Silver Sneakers Yoga" class offering at Knowles on Wednesday mornings.

"You need some basic mobility," Miller said of doing yoga, but the Silver Sneakers class offers chair-seated yoga.

"To me, it's sort of a full body exercise and meditation," Miller said of what yoga means to her — there is a spiritual side to it, but she doesn't get into it as much.

She has a family history of back issues, and yoga helps keep everything where it should be, she said.

Breathing control is as important to yoga as the stretching — as evident Saturday morning, when the loudest sounds in the room might have been people's breaths. There was also some soft music playing in the background, and the sounds of people shifting weight on the rubber mats atop the polished wooden floor.

Yoga can be much more strenuous than a casual observer might give it credit for.

Miller told participants in the class if they're new to yoga, they don't need to worry about matching their breaths with the movements.

One's sense of balance can also change day-to-day, so "be patient with yourself."

Miller said she used to do yoga at home with some DVDs as the instructor, but going to a class helps to maintain putting aside a dedicated amount of time for it, and "it keeps me motivated."

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